How To Express Emotions On Guitar Using Music Theory

Nov 20 08:13 2012 Tom Hess Music Print This Article

Learn how to express yourself on guitar by reading this...

How To Express Emotions On Guitar Using Music Theory

By Tom Hess

Ever listen to a great guitar player and wonder how they are able to make you feel powerful emotions? This is not an accident on the part of these guitar players. Being able to express emotion in music is one of the most desired abilities for all musicians. In order to get to the level to where you can play guitar in a way that makes an impact on others,Guest Posting you will need to increase your knowledge of musical expression.

The fact is, most people do not know how to be truly creative in their guitar playing. The biggest problem is that they have a core misunderstanding about how musical creativity really works. If you struggle with this, then you probably know that this can become an increasingly frustrating experience over time.

Many guitar players try to enhance their musical creativity skills by searching the music of their favorite bands for cool riffs and guitar ideas and playing them over and over. This is certainly an enjoyable activity to do when playing guitar, but in reality it does not do very much to help you to learn musical expression. If you spend a great deal of time on this, you will be missing out on the two most critical parts of being able to create emotion in music:

1.   You must know exactly how the musicians you listen to manage to make you feel certain emotions while you listen to their music. This means learning why the musicians you listen to make the specific musical choices they do. Unlike copying their ideas, this will give you a foundation for truly developing your own musical creativity. Additionally, it is important to understand how musicians think when making music so that you can learn to shape your musical ideas into your own unique and expressive musical style. This means that when you make your own music, you will be able to express the same emotions as your favorite musicians but do so WITHOUT “copying” someone else’s ideas note for note. Once you know exactly how music is used to create emotions in a listener, you have the power to turn your music into a clear communication of your ideas and feelings.

2.   You must know how specific musical emotions can be created and expressed by making certain musical choices while composing music or playing a guitar solo. Additionally, you need to be able to make your audience understand exactly what emotions you want to express with your music, without having to say a single word. Many guitarists struggle greatly with doing this and as a result they end up limited to only playing the music of others without ever really expressing themselves through their guitar playing.

There is a big divide between most guitar players when it comes to music theory. Many people avoid music theory, because they believe that it is a bunch of rules that restrict their freedom of musical expression. Other people think that music theory is required for knowing how to make music. Both of these views are incomplete when comes to the big picture of the purpose of music theory.

So what is the real purpose of music theory? Music theory is a tool to accurately describe the effects of musical ideas on the emotions of whoever listens to a piece of music.

How Can Music Theory Truly Give You The Power Of Musical Expression?

Understanding how music theory really works likely means changing your current idea of what music theory is used for. Forget about music theory as simply explaining the function of scales and chords in music. Instead, music theory is all about explaining why we feel certain emotions when certain musical ideas are used. Knowing this is instrumental to you developing great musical expression skills.

Here is an example to illustrate how you can use this idea. As a guitar teacher, I spend a lot of time showing my students how to increase their skills with musical creativity. One of the exercises I use is to have my guitar students write down specific emotions they want to express in their guitar music. Then, I have them write down the specific ways to accomplish these musical expressions using a variety of music theory ideas.

To learn more details about how this works, make sure to see this music theory guitar lesson video.

When you learn how to use music theory, it will help you to achieve the following:

1.   Music theory will help you understand exactly why you feel the way you do when you listen to any given piece of music. The best part is that you will then be able to use this knowledge in your own musical expression to make much higher quality music.

2.   You will be able to create music in a way that much more accurately expresses your ideas and emotions. It is common for most musicians (who are trying to write a song) to simply improvise on their instrument until something sounds “good enough.” This songwriting method is very limited and does not bring a lot of results consistently. However, if you have the knowledge of how to express specific musical emotions in music, it will be much easier to write great songs with less effort.

3.   Having knowledge of how musical expression really works will help you to recall musical ideas from your head onto the guitar much easier. Once you can remember and identify the music that you have written by the musical concepts it involves (not just the notes), you will be able to create melodies off the top of your head a lot more easily.

4.   When you understand exactly which musical choices to make in order to accurately convey a certain musical emotion, you will be able to anticipate how people will interpret your music.

So What Actions Do You Need To Take?

If you would like to increase your musical creativity and master musical expression, start by taking action on the following:

1.   First, watch a detailed explanation for the ideas of this article in this music theory guitar lesson video.

2.   Recognize that even though learning music theory is a critically important tool for learning how to be musically creative, there are many other skills you need to develop to fully express your emotions in music.

3.   Work on the exercise I mentioned above (that I do with my guitar students). This will be very useful for helping you to understand what you need to work on to become better in your musical expression. If you are having difficulty working through the exercise itself, this will tell you one of two things: Either your current music theory knowledge is not very developed yet, OR (like most guitarists and musicians) you do not understand how to integrate your music ideas together in an actual musical situation.

The most crucial understanding I want you to take away from this article is the way I have defined music theory, and how you can use this understanding to enhance your own musical expression on guitar. If you keep all these things in mind, you will be able to take your musical creativity to a new level.


About The Author:
Tom Hess is a professional guitarist, composer, and a member of the symphonic metal band Rhapsody Of Fire. He is also a trainer and mentor to guitar players from around the world in his guitar lessons online. Visit to get free guitar playing tips, guitar playing resources, mini courses and more guitar playing articles.

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